NEW YORK - If donating to charity was as easy as buying a candy bar from the vending machine, maybe more people would do it.
That’s the thought behind "Light the World Giving Machines," or red vending machines that have been set up in various U.S. cities and elsewhere around the world by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The machines allow passersby to "purchase" items ranging from chickens and goats, blankets, hygiene kits, a hot meal for someone in need, polio vaccines, diapers, school supplies and even a community well. The items range in price from $5 to $3,500.
In honor of Giving Tuesday, the Giving Machines opened for business in 61 locations across the world, including 41 cities in the U.S. and 14 international cities.
U.S. cities hosting the charity-focused vending machines include Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Las Vegas, New York City, Philadelphia, Seattle and the Washington, D.C. area, along with cities in Australia, Canada, Guatemala, Mexico, New Zealand and the Philippines.
In New York City, the Giving Machines were on display Monday in Times Square and later moved to their long-term Manhattan location for the holiday season in front of the Church of our Saviour, one of the Archdiocese of New York's Catholic Churches, located at 59 Park Ave.
Light the World Giving Machines debut at Times Square in New York City on Monday, November 27, 2023. (Credit: Provided / 2023 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc.)
Each city's Giving Machines feature items from three national charities, such as UNICEF, Red Cross, CARE, WaterAid and Church World Service, as well as items from three local charities, the organizers said.
"At a time of such division in our country and the world, this effort is really pulling people together," Michael J. Nyenhuis, president and CEO of UNICEF USA, said in a statement.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said the Giving Machines, now in their seventh year, "offer a unique way to serve and care for others."
"As we start the process of hoping there will be greater light in the world, we invite all to light the world," said Elder David Buckner, an Area Seventy church leader, in a statement. "Today we start that as a process of hope and promise and joy that the world so desperately needs."
The machines will be available starting on Giving Tuesday (Nov. 28, 2023) through Jan. 1, 2024 in most locations. Click here to find a Giving Machine near you.
This story was reported from Cincinnati.